Man vs. Machine

NM NMMustang6000
Feb 16, 2015, 6:11 PM |
4th Negros Closed Chess Championship 2014


Rd.5  NM Acaling  vs  Fritz 12   Kings Indian Defense

For the first time in four years, the championship of our Province included an engine. The sponsors of the event wanted to test the mettle of our players against an engine in a standard time control. Only three palyers managed to draw. FM Severino, CM Abanco and yours truly.





The last time I played 1.d4 in a tournament was 14 years ago. Against an engine, you need to play as solidly as possible, so 1.d4 or 1.Nf3 is in my view, the only way to go. 



2.e3 Bg7

3.Nf3 Nf6

4.c4 O-O



Honestly, during the game, I had no idea what kind of opening have we gotten into. One thing I know is that Black had constructed some kind of a King's Indian Defense. I only found out days later that this opening is in fact KI.



6.Be2 cxd4



It is important to avoid any isolated pawns or IQP. Since I don't play 1.d4 that much, I have to basically rely on my positional understanding, logic and common sense. If. 7.ed4 then after 7..d5 White cannot avoid an IQP unless he plays 8.c5 which was not to my liking because of 8..b6!



8.O-O d6

9.b3 Bd7

10.Bb2 Qa5



The exclamation is for finding the right move and plan for massive exchanges of pieces. This took me more or less 10 minutes to find and evaluate. It is a nice centralizing move, not only that, the move indirectly connects both rooks, protect the unprotected dark Bishop, and prepares the combination that will soon follow.





The right rook move! For a few moments during the game, I was tempted to unleash the combination that would have given me a Queen vs three minor pieces for the enemy. But I reckon that this unbalanced material is not the way to play against a machine. So I have to restrain myself, albeit with difficulty.





After the game I checked this diagram and I found out that there was one game that reached this position. Vladimir Kozumara vs Bent Larsen Sarajevo 1960.


13..Bxc6 N


A new move. Bent Larsen played the centralizing 13..bc6. This is where the humans and machine differs (at least in Fritz case). The human, if he is behind or ahead in the tournament standings would play a less optimum line when he is playing for a win. Fritz's move was the logical choice. But in Bent Larsen's case 13..bc6 was a fighting choice. 


14.Nd5 Qxd2

15.Nxf6 Bxf6

16.Rxd2 Bxb2



All of these is basically forced.



18.cxb5 Bxb5

19.Kf1 Kg7


The position had clarified, and it was quite clear that the draw is not that far. Still White must be vigilant even in this barren looking position.


20.Ke1 Rc7

21.Bxb5 axb5



Timing is everything. The passed pawn is a protected one. This move would not be possible had I played the incorrect 12.Rad1?!





At this point I was quite optimistic of my chances, I thought I had a chance to win if I managed to exchange one pair of rooks.



24.Rxa4 Rb5

25.b4 Rc4!


This was like a cold shower from a hot steamy day under the sun. My hopes of winning was dashed.


26.Kd3 d5

27.f3 e6


I was worried of 27..f5, but when the move 27..e6 was finally played at the board, the draw had crystallized. The battle was essentially over after...


28.e4! g5

29.exd5 exd5

30.Ra5 R5xb4

31.Rxb4 Rxb4

32.Rxd5 Kg6

33.Ke3 Rh4


If 33.Ra2 I was prepared to reply 34.Rd2 and the pawn endgame is an elementary draw.


34.h3 Ra4

35.Kf2 h5


The game was actually drawn on the 40th move. But for all intents and purposes the game should've ended here.